Magistrates sceptical about prisons

2012-07-16 16:30

Johannesburg - A limited poll of magistrates around the country has revealed a sceptical attitude towards the value of prison time.

The National Institute for Crime Prevention and Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) said on Monday it received responses from 49 magistrates in a voluntary survey.

About 80% of respondents did not agree that all offenders in prison were dangerous and needed to be locked up.

About 65% said even violent offenders could be rehabilitated.

Most - 57% - did not believe criminals were being rehabilitated in prison. Instead, 41% believed prison trained criminals to be more serious offenders.

About half of respondents did not support the use of longer prison sentences to fight crime, and 63% did not believe putting criminals in prisons stopped them from committing crimes in future.

"What the above results show is that the magistrates who participated in the research do not appear to be confident in the ability of prison to rehabilitate and re-integrate offenders back into society," Nicro spokesperson Jacques Sibomana said.

Sibomana said the organisation had hoped for more respondents so a comprehensive report could be written.

Those who did respond said they used alternatives to prison, such as diversion or non-custodial sentencing, only once or twice a month. However, they also said their most common form of sentencing was a fine, a form of non-custodial sentencing.

Diversion is when a low-risk offender is "diverted" from the courts to community-based programmes. This allows offenders the chance to change their ways without getting a permanent criminal record.

Three-quarters of the magistrates said they dealt with violent offences, 41% with property-related offences, 35% with sexual offences, and 16% with illegal substance-related crimes.

The magistrates were able to mark off more than one option.

About 45% of respondents said they received fewer than 40 new cases per month, and 14% said they received between 41 and 50 new cases.

However, 41% received more than 51 new cases every month.

"It is clear that the magistrates have a high case load," Sibomana said.

  • ken.rowe.509 - 2012-07-16 16:47

    At least while locked up the crimminals are kept away from us victims.

      Revelgen - 2012-07-16 16:58

      Absolutely. Do us non-criminals even have rights? Sometimes I wonder....

  • Lyndatjie - 2012-07-16 16:50

    Poor Criminals... they don't deserve to be locked up - lets put them back with society.... jeez

  • karl.pratt.1 - 2012-07-16 16:57

    I have a thought...... If every 1 is born with human rights, and you take away some ones right through an act of vilance..... Murder, rape child molestation, slavery ext.... Then your rights should be taken away...... That being said I suggest bringing back the colosium..... Let the criminals fight and kill each other ..... If you servive to your sentence then you may be released. It will create jobs for a lot of people..... Free up prison space for minor crimes, less money to feed them and ultimately bring the rate of crime down.

      Squeegee - 2012-07-16 17:16

      You started drinking early today... That has got to be the dumbest suggestion this century.

      karl.pratt.1 - 2012-07-16 17:55

      Realt squeegee.... And what's your suggestion.....? Do you like paying for some 1 to live for free? If you do that's very nice of you... Perhaps you want to take part of your tax and donate it to a charity to help the poor.....what would you do to the man that rapes your daughter or to a group of people that slaughter your family because they wanted what you worked so hard for.... If your a fiesty christy or belong to one of the other popular religious institutions.... Just ceep in mind..... An eye for an eye.

      Squeegee - 2012-07-16 18:57

      Karl, let look at your suggestion: 1. Build a Coliseum - at what R5 Billion. 2. Let criminals fight each other to regain their human rights. 3. If you then win - which means killing someone in the arena you get released - sure we want that sort of guy running around free. 4. This will create jobs - for whom? You are drunk or 15 or just plain retarded.

  • andre.vandeventer.16 - 2012-07-16 17:12

    Give the prisoners a hug and then release them, is that what you want??

  • nketso.kgwadi - 2012-07-16 17:12

    The same idiots are using electric fencing alarm sytems security companies and talk nonsense

      alansmartSnr - 2012-07-16 19:56

      ..For some time now I have been wondering why the Magistrates are so lenient. With the sentences handed down we, the honest hard working people are not taken into account. WTF! give heavy maximum jail sentences or exhorbant fines. It's up to the Magistrates to keep criminals, irrespective of the crimes, off our street and out of our lives. It's their duty. I admire them for the work load that they have to handle, but with maximum punishment you wont have to preside over cases where the criminals appear regularly, one crime after the other. We, the public and the SAPD rely on magistrates to keep crime off the streets and out of our lives. Vote DA. They will solve the problem with directors, and make a better life for all.

  • jan.henning.14 - 2012-07-16 17:12

    I am now seriously worried about the criteria used to appoint magistrates. No wonder our justice system is in such a shambles.

      Rodney - 2012-07-16 18:03

      This looks like a serious case of forward planning by the magistrates. They know they are corrupt, only a matter of time before they get done and hopefully by then, the system will just let them off with a slap on the hand and a new cadre deployment position. Nothing like planning ahead. :)

  • butch.poulter - 2012-07-16 17:13

    Instead of sitting in prisons they should be on farms/fixing roads etc and paying back their debt to society. Problem is we got human rights for the individual and not for society as a whole.

  • gavin.simpson.0 - 2012-07-16 17:24


  • Dawn Campbell Gibson - 2012-07-16 17:25

    Just bring back the death penalty for violent crime. jails will be much emptier and the few that remain could be worth trying to rehabilitate! HANG THE BASTARDS!!!

  • hudayfah.newman - 2012-07-16 17:25

    No, the problem is they're having a ball of a time on the inside while being fed three fat meals daily from tax payers' money. They don't mind going back there, its a stress free life( maybe a bit of an exaggeration but stil. . .) Crime has become a win/ win situation for them. If they don't get caught they get away with it on the other hand if they are caught they're going to be looked after. There is nothing to deter these people. That is the problem right there.

  • Hannes Truter - 2012-07-16 17:32

    So if there's no value to prison time give them the electric chair or the rope!!

  • ndyeboreginaldmazawule - 2012-07-16 17:32

    Did they say some megistrates can sentence once a month. That means it depends on their mood. Well I say sentence these bastards weather they being rehabilitated in prison I careless.

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